Dark Bilious Vapors

But how could I deny that I possess these hands and this body, and withal escape being classed with persons in a state of insanity, whose brains are so disordered and clouded by dark bilious vapors....
--Rene Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: Meditation I

Home » Archives » November 2005 » Challenges...

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11/27/2005: Challenges...

I sometimes like a *challenge* and here is one from Eric Zorn (Chicago Tribune) on Moving Thanksgiving as an artificially selected date into a better time slot for the Calendar of season's holidays and celebrations.

"7 good reasons to reschedule Thanksgiving:

If you don't like today's column, blame Abraham Lincoln.

If Lincoln had exercised better judgment in 1863 when he fixed the date for Thanksgiving, we'd have celebrated last month, this would be an ordinary week and I'd be writing happily on another topic.

Instead, Lincoln settled on late November, a dicey season for travel in the northern states. And I'm writing furiously about the need to move Thanksgiving into October.
I sat down in a funk [over canceled Thanksgiving travel plans] and came up with six more reasons, aside from better weather, that America should move Thanksgiving up by at least a month:

October is a better historical fit than November.

The after-harvest festivals with which Thanksgiving Day has come to be associated were traditionally held in September and October, roughly when the storied pilgrim-Indian banquet of 1621 took place.

There's nothing sacred about holding Thanksgiving in late November.

Early Americans observed various days of Thanksgiving in various months in various places. Our sensible friends in Canada celebrate in October. But when Lincoln standardized the event, he thought it best to choose the last Thursday of November (amended to the fourth Thursday by FDR) to honor the Nov. 21 anniversary of the Mayflower's dropping anchor off Cape Cod.

A four-day weekend toward the end of October would fall more neatly between Labor Day and Christmas.

Major holidays, like meals and vacations from work and school, should be as neatly spaced as practical. As it is, Thanksgiving both crowds the Christmas season and creates a long slog of days for most of us from early September until the end of November.

Because Labor Day is perfect where it is, New Year's Day is set in stone and there are a zillion reasons why moving Christmas is a non-starter, Thanksgiving's the best candidate for relocation.

A longer period between Thanksgiving and Christmas would create a longer Christmas shopping season.

This would be good for our friends in retail who could deck the aisles with boughs of holly in early November without having to hear the whine, "But it's not even Thanksgiving yet!"

Moving Thanksgiving to October might inspire us to move Halloween to late September where it belongs.

I'm getting off topic a bit here, but it's often too cold and always too dark on Oct. 31 for little kids to trick-or-treat in the early evening.

Even when the weather in late November is not so bad that it clogs and postpones travel, it's usually nothing to inspire gratitude for our natural world.

This is a chilly, gray time of year.

October, in contrast, is generally gorgeous and inspiring. No need for gloves and hats during the family touch football game on Thanksgiving morning.

Thanksgiving in October would mean no need to surf the Web fretfully on Saturday evening wondering if you'll make it back home the next day or if you'll spend Sunday night sleeping on an airport cot or in the median of the interstate where your mini-van finally came to rest.

Lincoln didn't know from airports or interstates, but what's our excuse for perpetuating his mistake?

If you think I'm wrong, give me seven reasons why. I'll settle for one good one. Post your responses to the Web at chicagotribune.com/changeofsubject.

I'll have plenty of time this weekend to read them.

So, anyone feeling the urge to respond to this challenge - feel free to pop your reply over to Mr. Zorn at that website.


Karen on 11.27.05 @ 08:27 AM CST

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